Russ' Vintage Iron

One Expensive Allis!

Russ Quinn
By  Russ Quinn , DTN Staff Reporter
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Some of you may be familiar with the Polk Auction Company of New Paris, Indiana. They have many auctions featuring vintage iron and items associated with antique farm equipment.

Last month they had a Dennis Polk Pre-Estate auction in which many interesting vintage signs, clocks and other items were sold. In addition, a few tractors were sold.

The most interesting tractor on the auction to me (and obviously others) was a 1969 Allis Chalmers 220 four-wheel drive tractor. I don't know if I have ever seen an Allis quite like this.

According to the company's website, fewer than 100 of these tractors were built and it was also one of the first four-wheel drives for Allis Chalmers. The machine had new 14.9-24 Firestone front tires, PTO, three-point, was in original condition and was on its second owner after belonging to someone from South Dakota originally.

As this was a fairly rare vintage tractor, it was not surprising that many, especially those partial to Allis, would covet this machine. The tractor ended up bringing $95,000, according to the auction company's website.

Wow! That is a chunk of change for on old tractor!

Basic economics says small supply of an item can lead to great demand for the item. This was certainly the case with this tractor. Any time there are less than 100 of a tractor model, one offered for sale becomes extremely valuable.

I will be perfectly honest -- I don't have a whole lot of experience with Allis Chalmers farm equipment. There was an old pull-type Allis combine and an old rake, which sat in one fence line that belonged to the previous owner of our farm. But I don't believe my Dad or uncle had any orange farm equipment.

I can remember we had a few neighbors who farmed with Allis-Chalmers equipment. The town in which I grew up had several equipment dealers decades ago, including an Allis Chambers dealership.

For a number of years now the local historical society created a calendar for a fundraiser and one year they featured pioneer farm families from the area. Each month featured old photos of these farms, most of which are gone now as the land was sold for various developments outside of Omaha. Our family farm was included.

For the calendar's cover photo, they hired a local professional photographer and gathered many of the descendants of these farm families for a group photo. The people gathered that day ranged from just one month old (this was my son Burke) to a couple folks in their 80s and 90s.

They had everyone gather on one of the last farms in the area and they even had a few of us bring vintage tractors. Those families that used International equipment stood around the old Farmall; those of us who were John Deere families stood close to our John Deere 620; and those families that used Allis Chalmers equipment stood around an old WD.

While two of the three tractors still belonged to the farm families in the photo, the Allis did not. The tractor was brought in from a neighboring town as it had been sold through the Allis Chalmers dealership formerly in our town.

I thought the placement around the make of tractor your ancestors used was a fitting, subtle touch. You wouldn't know that from just looking at the photo, but so much of the previous generations' lives were built around the land and the equipment they used on their farms.

That photo was taken 10 years ago this coming August and much has changed.

Instead of being a tiny baby Burke is enjoying the first few weeks of his tenth year. Sadly, several of the older folks in the photo are now gone. The farm where the photo was taken is gone, replaced by another housing development.

The cover photo from that particular calendar is on the wall in a frame at my home office. I look at that photo occasionally and wonder has it really been 10 years?

It has.

Russ Quinn can be reached at russ.quinn@dtn.com

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(CZ)